The Wardobe’s Best Dressed: “Absence of Stars” by Nicole Rollender


“If Every Sorrow Was This One”

I want to give you
a feast of apricots
on a stone balcony

overlooking an old
city whitewashed
by the sea,

rock you singing,
sun don’t go down
let’s not grow old, 

bone is forever,
paint for you
every shade of light

billowing across the floor
also crossed with shadows
that intrude as suddenly

as your sorrow,
raw and strange
as snow in your boots,

sun don’t go down,
stay here as I rock you
into sleep – I won’t

tell you one day all this
will be a memory,
us fading into that faraway

light – now I rub your temple bones,
blackbirds lift you into dream:
I will walk with you

to eternity, its immensity
of yes, of life after
all our meaningless gestures

that mourn.


This selection comes from Nicole Rollender’s collection Absence of Stars available now from Dancing Girl Press. Purchase your copy here.

Nicole Rollender’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Alaska Quarterly ReviewBest New PoetsThe Journal, Memorious, THRUSH Poetry JournalWest Branch, Word Riot and others. Her first full-length collection, Louder Than Everything You Love, was published by ELJ Publications in 2015. She’s the author of the poetry chapbooks Arrangement of Desire (Pudding House Publications, 2007), Absence of Stars (dancing girl press & studio, 2015), Bone of My Bone, a winner in Blood Pudding Press’s 2015 Chapbook Contest, and Ghost Tongue (Porkbelly Press, 2016). She has received poetry prizes from CALYX JournalRuminate Magazine and Princemere Journal. Find her online at

Ben McClendon is a PhD student in creative writing at the University of Tennessee. He previously studied poetry at Northern Arizona University after teaching high school English for several years. His poems have appeared in Indiana Review, Yemassee, Ceasura, Chariton Review, Redivider, Rattle, and elsewhere. He is currently Assistant Poetry Editor for Grist: The Journal for Writers and a poetry editor for Four Ties Lit Review. Ben lives with his husband in Knoxville.


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